It was with great interest that I read the minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) March meeting where the Head Teller Glenn Stevens noted somewhat nonchalantly that housing market conditions “do not pose a near-term risk” and that there is “no immediate cause for concern” with regard to debt levels.

No mention of those ‘bubble and boom’ headlines that dictate newspapers although it should be noted that both Fairfax and News Ltd prosper very well financially by enticing vendors to get on the market and spend, spend, spend in their respective newspaper real estate platforms.

There are no doubts that Australia’s real estate markets, aside from being right up there as being the most expensive and unaffordable, are right up there for glamour appeal as well as outstanding performance. The RBA is closely monitoring how the many niche markets are performing and would have a wry smile that the cash rate has more than done its job to the extent that the next move (probably in August) will be up. Already we are seeing predictions of 4.50% by mid–2015.

Historically, when the Mosman housing market breaks the one billion dollar mark in a calendar year it is the strongest sign that the markets are doing exceptionally well.

The Mosman house market is easily one of the most observed on the property catwalk and the RBA would be most happy how it is performing when comparing results from 2006 to 2013.

  • 2006 Number of Houses Sold 366 for a total value of $932,663,130
  • 2007 Number of Houses Sold 373 for a total value of $1,130,325,667
  • 2008 Number of Houses Sold 247 for a total value of $702,311,112 – GFC
  • 2009 Number of Houses Sold 278 for a total value of $732,986,251 – GFC
  • 2010 Number of Houses Sold 317 for a total value of $900,728,149 – GFC
  • 2011 Number of Houses Sold 270 for a total value of $777,349,292
  • 2012 Number of Houses Sold 284 for a total value of $789,400,700
  • 2013 Number of Houses Sold 366 for a total value of $1,022,005,721*

*This figure will rise significantly higher given a number of top end properties sold late in 2013 with long settlement periods.

Source: Australian Property Monitors

Historically, when the Mosman housing market breaks the one billion dollar mark in a calendar year it is the strongest sign that the markets are doing exceptionally well.

Prior to the GFC in 2007 the Mosman market was performing at its highest level so it should come as little surprise that in 2013 it was close to 2007 levels and 2014 should see the markets hit well in excess of $1.2 billion in turnover.

Another interesting point is that Mosman has approximately 4,800 houses so when the market is on it trades at close to 10% per annum and when the market is down it drops down to 5%. So when you look at how the property markets are performing currently it is very clear that now the RBA will step in – attempting to steer consumer sentiment into calmer waters. 

Housing accounts for over 60% of household wealth and this is now valued at over $5 trillion – which is more than three times nominal GDP. This is where it gets very difficult for the RBA given our banks have a massive exposure to our housing markets, and state governments on the other hand are high dependent stamp duty recipients.

The property numbers that really count: Mosman a good indicator of property market strength

Source: Westpac/Melbourne Institute/Alan Kohler Graphs

Yesterday the government announced its Terms of Reference for the Inquiry into foreign investment into Australian real estate markets. I thought Digital Finance Analytics raised some very interesting points on where this Inquiry already fails given the focus is on the Foreign Investment Review Board – when many of the overseas buyers simply skip the FIRB process and transfer funds to an Australian resident who then just purchases the property in their name. When the party who transfers the funds obtains Australian residency they then pay the stamp duty to transfer the subject property into their name. This rort has been going on for years and again this Inquiry has missed this loophole completely.

This leads me to think that quite possibly they don’t even know this is happening.